Brilliant Recognition and Reward Ideas to Motivate Your Employees

Recognition and reward is an important part of the work environment, and it can go a long way towards motivating employees to do their best. Rewards are also important, and they can be a great way to show your appreciation for a job well done. Let’s take a look at some of the best recognition and reward ideas out there. Simply Thank You has implemented these for global clients for 30 years – so we’re happy to share all that we know.

Recognition / Reward Idea 1: Public recognition

While introverts may be internally screaming, public recognition can be as big or as small as you need. There are many ways to offer recognition in a public way, and that doesn’t mean leaping onto a desk like Tom Cruise on Oprah.

You can post about an employee’s great work on social media, in a company newsletter, or on the company website, (look at an example from Simply Thank You here). You can also give public recognition at company events, such as an annual awards ceremony. This is a great way to show your employees that their hard work is appreciated, and it can also motivate other employees to do their best because they see that their efforts could be similarly recognised.

Recognition / Reward Idea 2: Gifts

Gifts are always appreciated, and they don’t have to be expensive to be meaningful. A small gift card for a job well done can go a long way, and it’s a tangible way to show your employees that you appreciate their efforts. You can also give employees gifts that are related to their hobbies or interests. For example, if an employee loves to read, you could give them a gift card to a bookstore. A huge coffee fan? Get a customised mug for them, or all the essentials to make their favourite drink.

At Simply Thank You we tend to recommend bundling, so instead of just one coffee mug, you make it more of an experience – add the beans, the milk, sugar, chocolate and a little note. In terms of additional cost it’s very small, but it turns something ‘so-so’ into a wow moment.

Recognition / Reward Idea 3: Recognition points values for use on a reward platform

If your company uses a recognition or rewards platform, you can give employees points for a job well done. These points can then be redeemed for prizes, such as gift cards, experiences, or products. The best part is, they build up. Unlike a one off gift it becomes a reoccurring event and something employees start to buy into.

Good feedback from a customer? 5 points. Stayed late to fix a burning issue? 20 points. It’s a really tangible way to thank and recognise on the spot and because it’s so quick managers are more likely to actually do it.

(Fun fact – the onecode from Simply Thank You is the only recognition and reward platform that offers such a huge mix of options of both gift cards and products.) This is a great way to show your employees that you appreciate their efforts, and it’s also a fun way to motivate them to do their best. Recognition points work well because they can be given frequently, and for smaller tasks.

If they start to be able to save up their points to redeem and swap for something big, such as a TV, tablet or new furniture – it can act as a longer-term motivator.

Recognition / Reward Idea 4: Manager recognition

Manager recognition is a great way to show your employees that you appreciate their efforts. Often there can be recognition and reward schemes that companies can use, but asking managers to go out of their way to recognise their employees can have an even bigger impact.

Manager recognition can take many forms, but some of the most common ways to show appreciation are through verbal praise, handwritten notes, or emails. You can also give managers the ability to give small rewards, such as gift cards or extra holiday days. This is a great way to show your employees that you appreciate their efforts, and it’s also a great way to motivate them to do their best. Ensure that managers are also rewarded for their efforts here!

Recognition / Reward Idea 5: Recognition desk accessories

Here us out – but having something tangible on a desk is a great way to showcase recognition. Some companies choose awards and trophies, some use pin badges, some even use branded t-shirts, mugs or little mascots. In today’s online world you could even create a special Zoom background for your star of the week or the day. This ties in to public recognition, as it’s a way of showing your employees that you appreciate their efforts in a way that is visible to everyone.

Recognition / Reward Idea 6: Recognition eCards

eCards are a great way to show your employees that you appreciate their efforts. They can be sent quickly and easily, and they ‘re a great way to show your employees that you’re thinking of them. A recognition wall is a similar great way to show your employees that you appreciate their efforts. This is a physical space where you can display the names of employees who have been recognised, along with why they were recognised. This is a great way to show everyone what has been achieved and it really does build momentum.

You can also use online channels like Slack to set up threads full of recognition for great work well done. Don’t forget the rewards though! While peer to peer recognition is excellent, without a reward, it can start to feel a bit like lip service.

Recognition / Reward Idea 7: Ask what they want or need!

Often managers are tasked with recognition and thinking up the reward as well. When done at scale, this can drop off. It’s simply too much to do. The better option is to either use a dedicated reward platform for employees, such as the onecode, allowing them to choose what they want from a points value, or by getting a wish list of ideas from employees as to what they want or need.

It could be frustrating for an employee to receive something that isn’t useful to them, so it’s always best to ask. Recognition is a two-way street after all – it should be something that benefits both the employer and employee!

The best way to get employee feedback is through an engagement survey. This will give you a good idea of what your employees are thinking, and how they feel about their work. You can use this feedback to improve your recognition and reward schemes, and to make sure that you ‘re recognising / rewarding in the right way.

Recognition / Reward Idea 8: Give employees the day off!

recognition and reward - day off post-it in diary

Giving employees the day off is a great way to show your appreciation and while this shouldn’t be your go to rewards for obvious reasons, it can really stick in the memory of someone who has worked hard. Recognising great work with time off is a way of saying “you’ve done a great job, now go enjoy yourself”. Again, this is all about empowering managers to use their common sense and also to act fairly around this type of reward.

It’s also useful to tie this in to some form of public recognition and reward. People leaving the office while others are working hard could be a de-motivator, so you really need to be showing people the ‘why’ and the ‘how’ they can get the same reward.

Side note – what is a demotivator?

A demotivator is something that takes away someone’s motivation. In this case, it would be people leaving the office while others are working hard. This could make people feel like they are not appreciated or that their efforts are not being recognised.

Demotivation is a problem that can lead to low productivity and morale in the workplace. It is important to find ways to motivate employees so that they are productive and happy in their jobs. Recognition and reward are two great ways to do this.

Other useful info to get buy in for your reward ideas:

What’s the difference between recognition and reward?

The answer is simple. Recognition is an acknowledgement of someone’s behaviour, whereas a reward is something given in exchange for that behaviour.

Should recognition and rewards be given together?

The answer to this is a resounding yes! Recognition on its own can be great, but when it’s combined with a reward, it becomes even more powerful. Rewards don’t have to be big or expensive – sometimes, the simplest things can mean the most.

While incentives for employees are often monetary, this isn’t always the case with recognition and reward. In fact, some of the best rewards are non-monetary. This can include things like extra vacation days, flexible work hours, or even just a simple thank you, but we will get into that!

What sort of behaviour should be rewarded?

These will be totally unique to your business but common reasons to give an employee recognition and reward are:

  • Great customer service
  • Meeting targets
  • Going above and beyond their job role
  • Being a great team player
  • Sales successes
  • Ideas and creativity
  • Finding solutions at speed
  • Finding easier ways to solve issues
  • Getting positive feedback from a customer

Recognition and reward doesn’t have to be given only for big accomplishments – even small things can be worth rewarding. It’s the little things that often make the biggest difference in employee morale, so don’t forget to acknowledge the smaller areas such as:

  • Being punctual
  • Having a positive attitude
  • Going the extra mile for a customer
  • Great attendance levels
  • Attitude and demeanour

Has recognition and reward changed since hybrid and remote work became more common?

Yes, definitely! The way in which we work has changed dramatically since the pandemic hit, and that has had a big impact on the way in which companies reward and recognise their employees.

Before, recognition might have been given at company events or in person, but now it’s more likely to be given virtually. This can be in the form of e-cards, emails, or even video messages.

Similarly, rewards are more likely to be given in the form of experiences or vouchers that can be redeemed online, rather than physical items. This is because it’s more difficult to send gifts to employees who are working remotely (although Simply Thank You can help you with our door delivery corporate gifts!)

In summary

There are loads of great recognition and reward ideas out there, so it’s important to find what works best for you and your employees. The most important thing is to show your appreciation in a way that is genuine and authentic, as this is what will really resonate with your employees. Thanks for reading! We hope you found this helpful.

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